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Fred's: Home of the world's best burgers (Burlington, WI)

Fred's: Home of the world's best burgers (Burlington, WI)
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  • Fred's: Home of the world's best burgers (Burlington, WI)

    Post #1 - November 28th, 2008, 1:04 pm
    Post #1 - November 28th, 2008, 1:04 pm Post #1 - November 28th, 2008, 1:04 pm
    BuddyRoadhouse wrote:Seriously, the burgers at Tessaro's were among the best I've ever had, including (but not limited to) Paradise Pup here in Des Plaines, Fred's Bar in Burlington, Wisconsin (home of the self proclaimed "World's Best Hamburger"), and The Nook (where they make their version of the Jucy Lucy; The Nookie), in Minneapolis.


    I want top thank Mr. Roadhouse for leading me the way to Fred's parkview in historic downtown Burlington, also known as "Chocolate City" because it is the home to Nestle. Well its not just the home to chocolate but also one of the best burgers in the world and NFL superstar Tony Romo as well as River Valley ranch Mushroom Farm and their amazing five cheese garlic spread. So theres alot going on in this little town that resembles most of America and the burger is the star of the show, the Dallas Cowboy's QB and boyfriend of Jessica Simpson isn't even a close second and he'd be the first to tell you that.

    Image
    Fred's Parkview from across the street

    Fred's is your typical Wisconsin bar with some not so average food. Its a very loungey and relaxing place to stop in for a beer and a bite to eat. The walls are decked out in Packers memorabilia along with tons of Tony Romo pictures and stories as well as stories about the burger from different print publications around the country.

    When me and my friend entered the bar the bartender was quick to greet us and make sure we knew the deal since she most likely assumed we weren't from there with my Bears hat on. You seat yourself and write out your order on a pad at each table and hand it to the bartender who then brings it into the kitchen. When I got the tour of the back kitchen there are boxes and boxes of fresh Idaho potato's stacked up to the walls. A good sign, no?

    Image Image
    Fred's homemade chips with Cajun seasoning and Fred's homemade curly fries...both were excellent.

    Image
    Spotted Cow on tap...whoweee!

    But the star of the show here is the burger. Its a fresh ground (daily) 1/2 lb patty sprinkled with a little spice secret and then griddled until cooked perfect. They top it with a fresh homemade bun from a bakery down the street that is buttered and crisped on the griddle. They offer a wide range of cheeses but I had to go with good old American and grilled onions with pickles. This is Wisconsin, also available is a double, yes a double with bacon if you want...next time.

    Image
    If you could scratch and sniff this photo, you would be in heaven like I was when it arrived. I knew it was going to be the real deal just by the smell and love put into it.

    Image

    Image

    Its so hard to declare one burger the "best ever" because there are so many variations and so many good ones across the country. How good was it? maybe and most likely the best I ever ate. It was my favorite large sized burger cooked on a griddle that I can remember, the best bar burger I can remember and the best burger in all of Wisconsin that I can remember and I lived and drove around the state for 4 years in college eating stuff like burgers and brats. There was a framed newspaper clipping from the local paper the day Tony Romo signed his hefty contract to become one of the NFL's highest paid players the headline was...

    "Romo signs deal worth 22 million Fred's"

    I got a chance to meet Fred who was arriving as we were finishing up and he was as nice as could be as well as all his employees and all the regulars. They treated us well despite our Bears loyalty and it made the experience all the better. Its easy to see why Tony Romo is one of the nicest and most down to earth athletes out there.

    The best thing about this place is its closeness in proximity to so many other good eats in Wisconsin, which is just full of them. Burlington is about a 20 minute ride from Kenosha and halfway between Kenosha and Lake Geneva. Kenosha is filled with great spots to stop at and the fact the River Valley ranch is also in Burlington makes it a regular in my rotation those days I just get in the ride and drive. I can stock up on RVR five cheese garlic spread, Spotted Cow, groceries from Woodman's like micro brewed mustards and kringles and Italian meats and cheese's from Tenuta's and grab a beer and burger from Fred's. Thats an area rich, rich, rich in food.

    Fred's
    596 N Pine St.
    Burlington / WI 53105
    Phone:(262) 763 8370
    Website
  • Post #2 - November 28th, 2008, 1:58 pm
    Post #2 - November 28th, 2008, 1:58 pm Post #2 - November 28th, 2008, 1:58 pm
    Yay! Another Roadhouse recommended success story. Da Beef (or should I say, King T? Don't worry your secret is safe with me.), you gotta start hanging with me and my Milwaukee/Chicago area pals from Roadfood. We make these excursions on a semi regular basis, meeting both down here;
    http://www.roadfood.com/Forums/topic.as ... _ID=31428&

    and up there;
    http://www.roadfood.com/Forums/topic.as ... _ID=29449&
    http://www.roadfood.com/Forums/topic.as ... _ID=26331&

    The group ranges from 10 to 20 people or more with folks coming and going from the tour throughout the day.

    Just as an aside, on our last trip to Fred's, we discovered nearby The Sci-Fi Cafe. At first glance it appears to be just another gimmicky theme restaurant until you pick up the menu.

    Full breakfasts with fresh made blueberry pancakes or waffles, house-made Indian bread; made from an Apache recipe passed on to one of the owners, a full selection of lunch sandwiches and an extensive vegetarian menu that includes a Jamaican Burger (lentil beans cooked in our house sauce), a Jamaican Walnut Burger (bread crumbs, black beans and rice, cooked with minced garlic, ginger, nutmeg, jalapeno pepper, and ground walnuts), a Yucatan Burger (butternut squash, bread crumbs, red beans, cilantro, lime juice, garlic, and house seasoning), and numerous other offerings, leads you believe that this place goes beyond its tourist trap veneer and may offer something deeper and of greater importance foodwise.

    Needless to say, we were way too stuffed after Fred's to sample The Sci-Fi Cafe, but now it is on our radar and we're going to check it out soon.

    Also in Burlington is a great upscale grocery store called Gooseberries. Excellent butcher counter, well worth checking out.

    Buddy

    The Sci-Fi Cafe
    532 N. Pine Street
    Burlington, WI 53105
    (262) 767-1116
    http://www.burlingtonnews.net/scificafe

    Gooseberries Fresh Food Market
    690 W State St
    Burlington, WI 53105
    (262) 763-5955
    http://www.gooseberriesmarket.com
    Last edited by BuddyRoadhouse on November 29th, 2008, 12:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #3 - November 28th, 2008, 3:06 pm
    Post #3 - November 28th, 2008, 3:06 pm Post #3 - November 28th, 2008, 3:06 pm
    Looks fantastic. Thanks for the info.
    i used to milk cows
  • Post #4 - November 28th, 2008, 3:40 pm
    Post #4 - November 28th, 2008, 3:40 pm Post #4 - November 28th, 2008, 3:40 pm
    BuddyRoadhouse wrote:Yay! Another Roadhouse recommended success story. Da Beef (or should I say, King T? Don't worry your secret is safe with me.), you gotta start hanging with me and my Milwaukee/Chicago area pals from Roadfood. We make these excursions on a semi regular basis, meeting both down here;
    http://www.roadfood.com/Forums/topic.as ... _ID=31428&


    haha, no worries, I just like to spread the word and when I take road trips, I always browse roadfood for ideas. So I just like to let them know my thoughts and thank the people there for their suggestions. So I will usually post my "beyond Chicagoland" posts over there as well.

    I'll def. try and come up to one of the events at some point, thanks again for the heads up.
  • Post #5 - November 28th, 2008, 3:51 pm
    Post #5 - November 28th, 2008, 3:51 pm Post #5 - November 28th, 2008, 3:51 pm
    Boy, my wife was hankering for something "to do" this weekend, and now I think I've got a plan!

    Thanks for the lead!

    BTW, I was at River Valley Ranch last year, a great source for local foods, I wish I knew about this place then.
    Think Yiddish, Dress British - Advice of Evil Ronnie to me.
  • Post #6 - November 29th, 2008, 11:39 am
    Post #6 - November 29th, 2008, 11:39 am Post #6 - November 29th, 2008, 11:39 am
    Hi,

    My hometown also has a nice restaurant formerly the Triangle Tap in Hillside which used to be across the street from Perk's, home of the 11 cent hampburger, not as good as Fred's.

    The restaurant is now called BJ Wentker's and is all grown up with a nice selection of single malt, wines, draft and great food.

    Tim

    Bj Wentkers
    230 Milwaukee Ave. (Hwy 36)
    Burlington, WI 53105
    Phone: (262) 767-1514
    Last edited by Tim on February 25th, 2009, 1:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #7 - February 25th, 2009, 11:55 am
    Post #7 - February 25th, 2009, 11:55 am Post #7 - February 25th, 2009, 11:55 am
    Another winner brought to us by LTH - we stopped in at Fred's a couple weeks back during a weekend trip through Wisconsin and everything lived up to expectations, which were pretty high.

    Fred's is a nice little place in a nice little town - lest you think that I'm damning with faint praise, we totally didn't expect there to be a downtown like Burlington has. I don't know if I was really expecting a roadhouse somewhere, or just a tiny little handful of stores or a strip mall along a state road, but Burlington was a fun place to be on a warm, sunny February afternoon.

    Image

    At 3pm on a Saturday, Fred's was packed but the wait was manageable. No real help from the establishment meant that one had to get to know your fellow patrons in line for tables to figure out what the pecking order was, but within about 10 minutes we had found a table and were trying to figure out the process of ordering.

    It's a little confusing and it took a while to get the order to the bartender, because in between filling all the drink orders, she also had to cash out all the tables who were in line as well, and pass all the orders into the kitchen. It's hard to imagine that this is a streamlined process for them, but it must seem to work in their eyes and it's a welcome and interesting differentiation from everywhere else on the planet.

    Onto the food:

    We ordered a plate of onion rings for the three of us, and these might very well be some of the best onion rings I've ever had. Beautifully fried and they avoided that which I hate the most about onion rings - where you take a bite and pull the entire onion out with it, leaving you with a hollow tube of batter. Nothing like that here, each bite was full of onion and deep fried battered goodness.

    Image

    And the burger? Oh, man, was this a burger. Like the above post, I got the half-pound burger with cheddar cheese and grilled onions. If I had one suggestion for anyone visiting Fred's in the future, it'd be this: Order these things Medium Rare. Mine came out perfectly cooked, moist and full of flavor, and you were really able to enjoy the taste of the meat. The other two burgers at the table were ordered medium, cooked perfectly as well but it pushed the burger past a place where you got the full impact of how good this burger was.

    Image

    Also: The cheddar cheese is a sauce as opposed to a slice of cheese, which didn't appear to be the case with the swiss cheese on another burger, so I would probably steer away from the cheddar next time as well. But if you're near Lake Geneva, Fred's is only about a 20 minute drive and very easy to find from downtown. World's Best Burger? I don't know, but it was one of the best I've had in a long time.
    Writing about craft beer at GuysDrinkingBeer.com
    "You don't realize it, but we're at dinner right now." ~Ebert
  • Post #8 - March 8th, 2009, 11:23 am
    Post #8 - March 8th, 2009, 11:23 am Post #8 - March 8th, 2009, 11:23 am
    We've been enjoying Fred's since the early '90's when we discovered it on a weekend daytrip with our kids. But, if you're going to Fred's, save some room and drive up the road a few blocks to Adrian's Frozen Custard for desert. Family owned and operated, Adrian's has outstanding thick, creamy and fresh custard that is worth the trip to Burlington by itself. Check it out! Take the little kids or grandkids up to Burlington - spend some time at the Echo Lake Veteran's Memorial Park then hit Fred's and Adrian's for a burger and desert. It makes a great day.
  • Post #9 - July 7th, 2009, 1:57 pm
    Post #9 - July 7th, 2009, 1:57 pm Post #9 - July 7th, 2009, 1:57 pm
    Spent the holiday weekend up at a cabin in Burlington, WI and finally got to try Fred's (the trip 2 years ago the to same cabin was cut short due to a damaged rotator cuff and the pain associated with it).

    I have to say, it was the best burger I have ever had. Went with mid-rare (came out more rare which was great by me) with american and just a bit of the "sauce" that comes out with it, which seems to be a mix of ketchup and miracle whip or something. I am a sucker for the bun which is buttered and toasted like the outside of a grilled cheese sandwich on the inside and outside is soft and fluffy. If I am not mistaken the 1/2 burger was $4.75 or something ridiculously cheap (the 1/4 is called a "slider").

    Also have to say that I HATE curly fries but the ones at Fred's are really good, hous cut and lacking in that nasty coating usually associated with curly fries. The friend cheese curds are quite nice as well.
  • Post #10 - July 8th, 2009, 12:57 pm
    Post #10 - July 8th, 2009, 12:57 pm Post #10 - July 8th, 2009, 12:57 pm
    Great pictures guys, I am definitely going to check Fred's out, and thanks again. The list of go-to places in Wisconsin is getting a little long, which is good, but can you have too much of a good thing?
  • Post #11 - August 18th, 2009, 9:32 am
    Post #11 - August 18th, 2009, 9:32 am Post #11 - August 18th, 2009, 9:32 am
    What is the protocol for ordering burgers at Fred's? I'm going to be there tomorrow evening with my family.

    Thanks,

    John
  • Post #12 - August 18th, 2009, 11:31 am
    Post #12 - August 18th, 2009, 11:31 am Post #12 - August 18th, 2009, 11:31 am
    saps wrote:What is the protocol for ordering burgers at Fred's? I'm going to be there tomorrow evening with my family.

    Thanks,

    John


    It can be a little confusing but its basically you go in and wait for seats to be avail. if there are some available and no one is waiting you take the table and grab some of the ordering slips and check out the menu, write down what you want and give it to the bartender who then gives it to the cooks who bring it out to you. Kind of hectic but well worth it in my opinion.

    I've been back once since my OP and on my 2nd trip I ordered a burger with their signature cheese. I would stick with the other choices. It was just melted nacho like cheese and I enjoyed the burger with a slice of American much more. If you like your burger more rare than cooked than also make sure to request it rare, they cook all to medium. I also tried the cheese curds and those were the best I have had. Fred's is the best spot for bar food appetizers I have found and the burger is right up there with the best. Add spotted cow on tap and its a great little neighborhood hangout.
  • Post #13 - August 18th, 2009, 11:42 am
    Post #13 - August 18th, 2009, 11:42 am Post #13 - August 18th, 2009, 11:42 am
    Thanks so much. I'm looking forward to it.
  • Post #14 - August 23rd, 2010, 12:26 pm
    Post #14 - August 23rd, 2010, 12:26 pm Post #14 - August 23rd, 2010, 12:26 pm
    I finally made the trip to Fred's yesterday afternoon on a beautiful summer day. I have to say I was nervous that it was in a bar setting as my girlfriend is very sensitive to smoking, but it appears that Fred's is smoke-free. It was packed when we got there around 3:00 (kind of surprised). It took us a few minutes to figure out the ordering method there (you have order sheets on your table with a pen, you write out what you want and take it to the bar). It was a little like the old Barnaby's style of ordering.

    Anyway, the burger was somewhat similar to Patty's Diner. Actually, the bun was what really reminded me of Patty's, so if you like that style of freshmade bakery bun, they have it here. But they cook the burgers on a griddle, not over flame like Patty's. I thought the burger had a homemade quality to it, which is great. I don't get cheeseburgers, but Fred's lets you have cheddar on it as a slice or sauce. I did get the homemade chips, which were just like the clusters you get at a carnival or street fair (I liked them). My girlfriend had a Ham and Swiss Chicken sandwich that she thought was excellent. If I had one minor quibble, it seemed like the sides were a little small for the money, but I liked the place very much and will definitely be back.

    After lunch, I had some custard down the street at Adrian's, which hasn't changed their decor or chairs inside since 1974. I have to say I was not impressed with their product. I've never had bad custard anywhere, but this was probably my least favorite. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't that great either. Hard to put my finger on what it was.

    Later that evening, we headed over to Racine to check out Wind Point and the lighthouse there and then I planned on going to Wells Brothers for some great pizza. Sadly, they were closed. :( Undeterred, I remembered some praise for another Racine pizzeria - Mike and Angelo's, so I went over there. They were closed too! Or so I thought. It turns out, my car's nav system let me down. I ended up on Taylor St, which I could swear my car said Mike and Angelo's was on, and we pulled in front of a pizzeria, but it was closed. Unless this was an older location that closed. I honestly don't know what happened! Maybe I misread the nav screen and it had a similar name. I should have double checked. C'est la vie.

    I have to remember that when you are a fan of locally owned restaurants, you have to be prepared for them to be closed on unusual days and sometimes they take vacations. Just checked Wells Brothers hours, and they are closed Sunday and Monday (similar to Rocco's of South Bend). Live and learn.
  • Post #15 - August 23rd, 2010, 2:44 pm
    Post #15 - August 23rd, 2010, 2:44 pm Post #15 - August 23rd, 2010, 2:44 pm
    FYI - Wisconsin became smoke free on July 5th. All restaurants and bars are 100% smokefree indoors. The state law also includes 100% of hotels and motels, becoming the first state to make 100% of hotel rooms smokefree.
    Hors D'oeuvre: A ham sandwich cut into forty pieces.
    - Jack Benny
  • Post #16 - August 23rd, 2010, 5:21 pm
    Post #16 - August 23rd, 2010, 5:21 pm Post #16 - August 23rd, 2010, 5:21 pm
    Dave148 wrote:FYI - Wisconsin became smoke free on July 5th. All restaurants and bars are 100% smokefree indoors. The state law also includes 100% of hotels and motels, becoming the first state to make 100% of hotel rooms smokefree.
    Well, as a non-smoker, I love it. Ok Indiana, your turn.
  • Post #17 - October 6th, 2011, 2:05 pm
    Post #17 - October 6th, 2011, 2:05 pm Post #17 - October 6th, 2011, 2:05 pm
    Beef: I was right next to Burlington yesterday and remembered this important post. Thank you.

    I used to feel strongly that California was the best state for burgers, and I know that MikeG and other dustbowl proponents claim that the plains of Kansas, Oklahoma and thereabouts are burger central (the Motherland whence came the Cali burgers); however, between the Burgers of Wisconsin posts and my limited alimentary audits of your work, I now have a hard time believing any state has better burgers than those of our gentle Cheesehead friends. The family-friendly tavern culture of Wisconsin breeds great hamburgers.
  • Post #18 - October 6th, 2011, 6:27 pm
    Post #18 - October 6th, 2011, 6:27 pm Post #18 - October 6th, 2011, 6:27 pm
    JeffB, thanks so much for your post. As a native Chicagoan, who escaped to Wisconsin years ago, I share your opinion of the Wisconsin burger. Two months ago, I had the opportunity to eat at Fred's for the very first time with the Roadhouse clan and thoroughly enjoyed the entire dining experience.
    Mark A Reitman, PhD
    Professor of Hot Dogs
    Hot Dog University/Vienna Beef
  • Post #19 - September 4th, 2012, 2:09 pm
    Post #19 - September 4th, 2012, 2:09 pm Post #19 - September 4th, 2012, 2:09 pm
    I have Tony Romo on my fantasy team this year, so I figured a pilgrimage to Burlington was in order. Fred's (and Burlington itself) did not disappoint.

    I loved the burger from Fred's. It was sort of a combination between a thick, juicy pub burger in the center and a thinner, crispy lace-style around the edges. I'm not sure why more places that form their own patties don't try to strike the same balance. I made the rookie mistake of not specifying how I wanted it cooked when I turned in my order slip, so my burger came back cooked through. The burger was still moist and delicious, so I can only imagine how good it would be at medium rare.

    Fries and onion rings were both very good. I was sorely tempted by the Spotted Cow on tap, but I was still nursing a minor hangover from the night before. Next time. . .

    I'd also like to point out how nice the city of Burlington is. We arrived sooner than anticipated, so we had about half an hour to kill before Fred's opened. There's a lovely park directly across the river, with ample parking. A stop at Bobby Nelson's on the way home for brats and summer sausage made this a day trip I will be repeating very soon.
  • Post #20 - September 4th, 2012, 5:02 pm
    Post #20 - September 4th, 2012, 5:02 pm Post #20 - September 4th, 2012, 5:02 pm
    About halfway down the block from Fred's is the Sci-Fi Cafe. It sounds like a tourist town gimmick restaurant, but their menu is pretty interesting. It's a semi-vegetarian menu with a lot of Native American items like fry bread and "Navajo Tacos" supplementing the choices. Not that adventurous? There's a Chicago style hot dog listed as well. We've never eaten there, but it has always piqued our curiosity. Trouble is, when you've got the World's Greatest Hamburger beckoning from three doors down, it's hard to choose fry bread and whole grains.

    Buddy

    Sci-Fi Cafe
    532 North Pine Street
    Burlington, WI 53105
    (262) 767-1116
  • Post #21 - October 25th, 2012, 11:30 am
    Post #21 - October 25th, 2012, 11:30 am Post #21 - October 25th, 2012, 11:30 am
    We had some business in Racine last Saturday, which gave us the perfect opening to call a Wisconsin friend to meet us at Fred's. No line at 3:00. We all went with the 1/4 sliders. Mr. X and our friend had theirs with a slice of cheddar; I went with the roasted garlic burger that had swiss. A side of fries and a side of chips, plus a round of beers filled out our ordering. I can now join the chorus of praise. Great beef flavor in the burger. I couldn't stop eating chips and I'm not a chip person. This won't be our last visit to Fred's.
    -Mary

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